I was thinking today about how our image of God (if you have one) colors who we are and how we think. If anthropology tells us correctly the images of God dug up from very old civilizations were mostly feminine. Women with bulbous breasts and often pregnant. The idea that women created life brought about ideas of their sacredness.
I don’t know that I have ever read any study that gives a step by step progression of how and why that image changed. Might be fun to look that up but I suspect it had to do with the shift from a hunter-gatherer society to a less mobile farming one. As civilization progressed roles continued to be defined and somehow the God as woman shifted. In many cultures there were multiple Gods connected with the perception that Gods controlled the vagaries of the earth and could be appealed to to bring good outcomes.
As God, melded into a single entity in several cultures that entity was primarily male. Our Christian beginnings, linked to the Jewish culture, were firmly entrenched in a male image.
All this being said how does this affect how we think? If we see a male, patriarchal God we will expect a male dominated society. Our society has had this aspect for quite a long time. If we believe in a God we have to learn to see God as more. God as feminine, God as neutral, God as gay, transgender or whatever allows us to feel connected with the divine. This idea can be offensive to some but the point is we connect with a God who is like us for right or wrong. That is why some people have had a difficult time with images of god. The image we have definitely colors our thinking. It is time we espouse a very broad image. After all, we can’t possibly grasp the infinite. Don’t put God in a box.
This is not my story. I heard it at a conference. It was told by Madeleine L’Engle and I never forgot it. I don’t know if it is hers or someone told her. Forgive me if I tread on toes.
There was a family that had a new baby. They also had an older child called Tommy. (not real name). Tommy seemed very attentive to the new baby. After the baby had been put down in bed in the nursery he said to his parents. “I want to see baby!” The parents tried to usher him into the room but he pulled back. “I want to see baby ALONE!” The parents were a little taken aback but reasoned that there was a monitor in the room and they could hear whatever went on. They waited by the monitor. Tommy entered the room and they heard him say to the baby: “Tell me about God, I’m forgetting.”
There are times when I reflect on someone else’s life and wonder how they manage. There are so many tragic stories out there. I have wondered how I would react if asked to live life as a paraplegic…if I could not longer feel anything but my face. What would be my reaction to being trapped in my body with only a mind to make me feel alive? Would I cope or would I seek to end my life?
How would I react if my husband required 24/day care and I didn’t have the money to hire someone to help?
In life there can be some living nightmares. Scenarios that we not only wouldn’t want to be in but also wouldn’t wish on someone else.
It is an ethical dilemma to make decisions when things like this happen. Would you be willing to help someone die? (Assuming of course that their life was full of nothing but pain and imminent death.)
These are core questions. The kind that we hope we never have to come up against but they are real.
What are your core values? If faced with this kind of decision how would you decide? It can be difficult to envision this ever happening to you but this kind of thinking does help you to understand deep moral questions. For those of us with a faith underpinning we hope that we would turn to that for guidance.
In my time as a nurse I have seen families struggle with decisions that can tax their moral ground. I have seen them divided over the answers and sometimes torn apart by it. Many times we would like for the doctors to tell us what to do but that is not their decision to make. Most of them will avoid giving an opinion which makes it harder.
If you have never considered having a living will to take the burden off of those around you please think about this. We tend to think that this sort of thing is for older people but the worst struggles come when something happens to someone young. You are never too young to fill out this important document. It seems morbid but it is important.
If you don’t know how to get an advanced directive leave a comment and I will answer.
It is interesting where our search for complete cleanliness has led us. We have gone too far. Doctors are now recommending that we stop using antibacterial soap except in places where it is really needed. We have created a society of people who are actually to clean.
I grew up with a grandmother who was born in the 19th century. One of her adages was “You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die.” Turns our she was on target. A recent article by a British physician who has studied childhood leukemia for the last 30 years has come to the conclusion that our immune system has to be kick started by, you guessed it, infection. He has found that lack of push to the immune system linked with several other factors is what is increasing the number of children diagnosed with this disease.
This is no fly by night physician but a newly knighted doctor named Mel Greaves. If you would like to read the article you can find it at
It is an eye opener. I suppose that my great grandson, who is in day care and exposed to everything, may be safe from this dread childhood disease. At least I hope that there is some benefit from being exposed at an early age.
God willing, this physician and those who work with him will continue to explore this lead and find a way to stop the increase in this disease.
“Comparisons are odious.” Madeleine L’Engle
We spend a lot of time comparing ourselves to others. And yet, I am not someone else….I am me. I can’t expect to be exactly like another. I can’t expect another to be like me. We are each unique. It is important for us to realize this and not make comparisons. Comparisons can make me feel less than. That is not a good feeling. We each have to learn to accept ourselves and only work on becoming the best ME I can be.
This poem about comparisons was written a while ago.
I wonder if the rose
compares itself to all other roses
and thus negates its beauty
I suppose the rose
would find this idea silly
and wonder why anything
would want to do this
I would imagine
that the rose
simply delights in its own
and never worries about
©Suzanne Boyd 1997
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we woke up and the world had changed
no more wars
no more pain
no more anger
Wouldn’t it be amazing if everything was different
no more hatred
no more prejudice
no more discrimination
Wouldn’t it be amazing if the world was restored
no more pollution
no more un-breathable air
no more endangered species
Wouldn’t it be amazing if the people were reborn
filled with joy
filled with love
filled with celebration
Wouldn’t it be amazing
© Suzanne Boyd 2018
Can you live in mystery? For me, advent is a season of mystery. It is about waiting…something that most of us don’t do well. It is also about not knowing. When we wait for a baby we have no idea what the outcome will be. The baby may be healthy or not…fussy or not….cute or not. We just don’t know.
We also won’t know for years what that child will be like when an adult. We may do everything we can to raise him/her and it still may not work out. We live daily in mystery but we think we are in charge. We think we are in control.
I learned pretty early on that I am not in charge. Anyone who has suffered with illness or mental health issues has that hit home. We have learned that life is about living each day as it comes.
If we have learned how to cope with unknowing then we make adjustments and move on to the next day. Strangely enough this is not a bad thing. Those who have not learned about life’s mystery have difficulty when something goes out of their control.
So, don’t bemoan the trials you have had. Take the things you have learned and use them to your benefit. You will be able to tackle challenges better and recover faster than those who have never faced the unknown that shatters their belief.
Know this—your experiences have made you stronger. You can live in mystery.